If you listen to the roaring winds of the Bass Strait speak to you, it’s easy to rewind back to a bygone world. To a time when 17th-century Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman navigated the capricious waters off Van Diemen’s Land. The faraway island that became Tasmania — an intricate tapestry of untamed wilderness areas, haunted penal colonies, hidden inlets and windswept coastlines. The only difference is that you’re sailing aboard MS Spirit of Tasmania, a 194 metre-long RoPax ferry which was designed with a thoroughly modern spin.
Built in Finland in 1998 and launched in the silky blue waters of the Aegean Sea, the ferry has long since changed course — now sailing the swells between two great southern oceans. But for many Tasmania-bound passengers, the 194-metre long vessel is truly slicing through a magnetic spot.
Recently undergoing a multi-million refurbishment, there are two TT-Line Spirit of Tasmania ferries that operate concurrently between Port Melbourne and Devonport. And there are many options where you can rest your head.
Accommodating up to 1400 passengers with 222 cabins of choice — from bunk-bed porthole cabins and interior cabins with hostel-style bedding to eight, deluxe cabins with queen beds, television and double portholes — there is also a dedicated rest area with reclining chairs for night owls and two cabins equipped for wheelchair access.
But it is the Terrace Lounge Bar on Deck 9 where most come to unwind. Completely refitted and redesigned without a nautical stripe to be seen, the area reveals incredible views of the Strait’s steely-dark waters — and at times, its mercurial touch.
The night scene also packs in the queues at the Tasmanian Market Kitchen (TMK), a buffet-styled restaurant serving a feast of hearty meats, fish, salads and pasta. And exuding a surprisingly low-key vibe is the Admirals Gaming Lounge, where the pace of the journey varies.
Reflecting a point of difference is the aptly-named Reading Room, while other crowd-pleasers are the two, 48-seat cinemas on Deck 7 with a selection of newly-released movies, and the vast entertainment area on Deck 10.
Here the real wizardry behind Spirit of Tasmania’s revamp is the children’s beach-themed play area which comes equipped with adrenalin-fuelled delights; from a jungle gym to a punching bag (a novel idea). Two flights of stairs up, there is also a games arcade for bleary-eyed teenagers.
There are other ways to travel to Tasmania — as the crow flies. But the best way to arrive is aboard Spirit of Tasmania. To many, it also the start of a road trip. You simply drive on, park your car and then drive off when you disembark— all with ease.
A great way to begin – and end – your perfect Tassie escape.
- Regardless if you’re a seafarer, it is advised that you take sea-sickness tablets 30 minutes before the ferry sets sail. The weather is Bass Strait can literally whip up a storm.
- Anyone serious about Tasmanian food will enjoy the ‘Flavours of Tassie’ during select periods of the year — wine, cheese, wines and other gourmet delights.
- During the winter, the 11-hour night crossing aboard Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II departs at 7.30PM (simultaneously) from Melbourne and Devonport. There are twice-daily crossings scheduled during the summer.
- The ship accommodates 500 vehicles. Passengers checking in vehicles should commence checking in 150 minutes before departure; the latest is 45 minutes or you’ve really missed the boat.
- There are 222 cabins including eight deluxe rooms and 121 reclining chairs
- Pets are allowed on board and travel in ventilated kennels.
For further information on seasonal fares (passengers by foot or car), seasonal departures, Loyalty Program (Sailors Club and Frequent Traveller’s Club), cinema admission and meal costs: spiritoftasmania.com.au